The Never-Ending Peterson Comment

I have been working on finishing “It is Complex; Ergo Goddidit”, which I am excited to present because I have been corresponding with biologists over email on some big questions like the origin of DNA and details absent in Neo-Darwnism.  But I realized I promised to address a comment about J.B. Peterson and related topics in a post.  So I hastily put this together. I really shouldn’t give this individual the spotlight, but I enjoy engaging with people that have different views than I do.  Although these views really come down to a difference in preferences, the concepts that the commentator brings up are hugely important.  If it were not for this point, then I would choose not to engage.  Because there are so many errors and confusion in their understanding, and I don’t have much time.  To be fair, a lot of the points I make are nuanced and require a different perspective, one that they may not be used to. Oh, and to be brutally honest, as I try to refrain from displaying my contempt, this individual confirms why I am not a conservative.


Then. Uh.. Oh… JB Peterson is found to be conservative culturally (he keeps insisting that he is a classical liberal). The horror!!! Conservatism is bad!!! Conservatism is EVIL!!!
Then. Uh.. Oh… JB Peterson is found to be religious. The horror!!! Religion is bad!!! Religion is EVIL!!! Well, if Religion bends to the diktats of the Left, then Religion is somewhat ok.


Notice the shift in the tone of the commentator.  Evil is something we label others with that can do harm to our well-being, which includes those that reject us.  The typical staunch conservative—either literally or symbolically—has not been too friendly to minorities and the LBGTQA+ communities.  If a conservative stays true to their worldview, they can never accept the underrepresented and marginalized.  So you are goddam right many liberals should think of conservatism as evil.  Your mockery either proves your ignorance or indifference to human nature.  Below is the implicit hierarchy that is in the minds of conservatives.  This legitimizes the traditional power structures along with making us believe that the rich are better than the poor. Of course, not all conservatives will have these implicit biases because this is a model!  A model is an ideal type, and real conservatives will vary or deviate in different ways from the ideal type.  But there is enough of the ideal to warrant the model. 


As far as the comment on religion being evil, no I don’t share the same views as the New Atheists do.  Religion can have some value.  I choose to not believe in god nor participate in religion because I made a commitment to realism and science.


The narrator needs to show his Leftist bone fides and has to write some pseudo-objective essay damning JB Peterson with faint praise while implying – giving no specifics -that he is wrong in some undefined aspects.


I never damned the guy.  I will say it again.  If we want to be successful, then we should follow Peterson.  My motivations are not to stay true to leftist viewpoints but to insightfully show that there may be some consequences to Peterson’s approach.  I have been writing about status hierarchies for years now.  And to call what I have defined below over and over as “some undefined aspects” either illustrates that they have a comprehension problem, I don’t explain myself well, or they are arguing to win instead of to learn.

I posed a hypothesis that Jordan Peterson’s moral reasoning and teachings are conservative-like through and through.  I then posed another hypothesis that his approach only encourages hyper-competition and contributes to the problem we have with status hierarchy.  Yes, no one has heard of this because it is from the ivory tower.  But over three decades’ worth of research suggests that relatively large disparities in status differences result in a reduction in health and happiness.  This may not make any sense to this individual, but I surely did define my argument.  It won’t make any sense because we need to understand what status hierarchies, relative status, and the conservative worldview are.  This individual obviously did not take the time to read the prerequisites to understanding.  I will get to meritocracy in the next post, which is not in itself evil, but has tradeoffs like any system does.

This individual had a few good points which I acknowledged.  One, they pointed out that my analysis was more of a caricature than an even-handed critique of J.B. Peterson.  I agreed.  Second, they pointed out that Peterson endorses “play”, as in being affable and, well, playful, which eases tensions when relating to others.  I agreed.  But neither of these detracts from the essence of Peterson’s approach which is conservative.  What makes a conservative a conservative?  This has been studied by experts, and I would refer those interested to George Lakoff or Jonathan Haidt.  It is in how they reason and prioritize certain moralities (by Lakoff) which is rooted in their personality (by Haidt).  If we want to know more, then I suggest we read this post.  So unless this individual understands those posts, I will not convince them that conservatism and liberalism are not just political philosophies but rather different ways in which we reason and prioritize our values with.  I doubt they will take the time to research. 

The first hypothesis can be easily shown to be true.  There are four assumptions that drive the reasoning of a conservative.  [If one cares, I would be glad to share.]  These assumptions are radial categories that can vary in different kinds of ways when applied to any particular real-life conservative.  Pick most (not all) lectures Peterson has on YouTube, and we will find evidence of these assumptions.  The stuff that is salient is the stuff that matters.  I know Peterson has more modes of reasoning than the conservative worldview, but conservatism is the stuff that overwhelmingly directs his thoughts and reasoning.  The best evidence we have that his worldview is conservative is that on every single political issue, he is on the side of a conservative.  Jordan Peterson is not stupid; he has a set of well-thought-out values.  These values influence what he chooses to teach and not teach.  As far as being a classical liberal, which libertarians think they came from, they are two steps away from being a conservative.  So it makes no difference.


I will address this, which consists of gross misunderstandings and bizarre ramblings, in the next post.

The genesis of all this Peterson-phobia (-phobia as in Hate and/or Fear) is Peterson’s refusal to kowtow to the Leftist imperative on pronouns. Previously Dr Peterson wrote several books, posted 100’s of hours of his lectures on social media. He was relatively unknown until the Leftst kerfuffle about pronouns. Dr Peterson’s fame and fortune exploded because of Leftist hysteria.

Traditional Marriage: JB Peterson supports it. So what. JB Peterson is not suppressing the gay lifestyle in any way. The pursuit of same-sex marriage to be seen as equivalent to traditional marriage is sign of incompleteness of the gay culture. Ancient Greece where homosexuality was pretty mainstream and yet same-sex marriage was absent. In Ancient Greece, where homosexuality plays a prominent role in its culture, all men are required to marry a woman. Even Alexander had to marry a woman (Roxanne) to strengthen an alliance with another nation. PLATO LAWS 636D : “… He who refuses to marry shall be thus punished in money, and also be deprived of all honour which the younger show to the elder; let no young man voluntarily obey him, and if he attempt to punish any one, let every one come to the rescue and defend the injured person, and he who is present and does not come to the rescue, shall be pronounced by the law to be a coward and a bad citizen.”
Traditional Marriage. Cultures, subcultures evolve with time, with institutions being created, destroyed, modified on some rational basis. The gay community says “Love is Love”. So why the opposition by the Gay Community to polygyny, polyandry, human-animal marriage which are embodiments of the “Love is love” principle? Can a community experiment with same-sex marriage? Yes! Why not? We will see the state of same-sex marriage in, say, 75 yrs from now. Traditional Marriage lasted thousands of years.
More on Plato. PLATO LAW, BOOK 8:”But how can we take precautions against the unnatural loves of either sex, from which innumerable evils have come upon individuals and cities? How shall we devise a remedy and way of escape out of so great a danger? … in what degree will they contribute to virtue? Will such passions implant in the soul of him who is seduced the habit of courage, or in the soul of the seducer the principle of temperance? Who will ever believe this?-or rather, who will not blame the effeminacy of him who yields to pleasures and is unable to hold out against them? ”
Transgenderism. JB Peterson’s stance on this issue is very much based on atheist – not christian – foundation. “Gender-Affirming” care. What gender is being affirmed? The spiritual gender? The material gender? Why do atheists abandon their faith on the transgenderism issue by embracing the spiritual gender over the material gender? I thought atheists do not believe in spirits, souls, ghosts, gods, and such silly stuff. The atheist’s stance on transgenderism is akin to Cargo Plane Cults where wooden planes were built as inducements for actual planes to come back with modern material goods.
“When you exclude people, then you will arouse animosity.” Excluding from what? Excluding for what reason? The politics of the American Left is politics of J.E.A.R. (Jealousy, Envy, Anger, Resentment). Animosity brings about Resentment. The politics of the Left is not so much one of Inclusion but one of Intrusion. The American Left is not comfortable, not interested in multi-cultural societies. Multiple cultures in the same physical space invariably implies that some aspects of one culture are excluded from other cultures; otherwise all cultures are one and the same resulting in a mono-cultrue society. For a harmonious multi-cultural society there should be a set of overlapping interests common to all participating cultures while – naturally – each culture maintaining exclusive aspects : the basis of federalism. And yet the American Left is bothered by “cultural appropriation”.
Is same-sex marriage just cultural appropriation from heterosexual culture? Why does gay culture want to imitate heterosexual culture? Is gay culture parasitic?
Is transgenderism just cultural appropriation from female culture? Why does transgender culture want to imitate female culture? Is transgender culture parasitic?
Mr Rogers as transphobe. Check YouTube (Mr Rogers on gender orientation — The Tonight Show 09-04-1980).
“I began to like the guy despite his beliefs.” Who cares. I doubt very much JB Peterson cares. Play the pieces on the board, not the person across the board. Facts do not care about your feelings.

Leftism encourages fear, not respect. Leftism encourages J.E.A.R. (Jealousy, Envy, Anger, Resentment).  The Left fears the competent.  The Left resents the competent.

Yes, I believe in many but not all cases envy and indignation can be at the root of a liberal worldview.

According to the dictionary, FORMIDABLE = inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable. Fear (aka intimidation) versus Respect. Fear is not Respect. Fear is a reaction; respect is a decision. Going back to the subject of play, no one gets invited to play through intimidation. Peterson definitely advocates people to strive to be capable, competent, and (IMPORTANTLY) playful. Formidable and playful inspires much more respect than fear. Fear and Respect are functions of the beholder more than of said formidable person.
According to the dictionary, RESPECT = a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Respect opens one to improve oneself, to educate oneself. Fear closes one to improvement and education. Leftism encourages fear, not respect. Leftism encourages J.E.A.R. (Jealousy, Envy, Anger, Resentment). The Left fears the competent. The Left resents the competent.


Sources recommended for the commentator to help them get up to speed:

[1] Anonymous. The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Politics. Federalist Publications.

[2] Boehm, Christopher. Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. Harvard University

[3] Deaton, Angus. The Great Escape. Princeton University Press.

[4] Greene, Joshua. Moral Tribes. Penguin Publishing Group.

[5] Haidt, Jonathan. The Righteous Mind. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

[6] Kling, Arnold. The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides. Cato Institute.

[7] Lakoff, George. Moral Politics. University of Chicago Press.

[8] Lakoff, George. The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant! . Chelsea Green Publishing.

[9] Lakoff, George. Philosophy In The Flesh.

[10] Lakoff, George. The Political Mind. Penguin Publishing Group.

[11] Lakoff, George. Your Brain’s Politics. Societas.

[12] Ryan, Christopher. Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress. Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster.

[13] Tuschman, Avi. Our Political Nature. Prometheus.

[14] Waal, Frans de. The Age of Empathy. Random House LLC

[15] Westen, Drew. The Political Brain. PublicAffairs.

It’s Complex; Ergo Goddditit, Part 1

I have to take a break from JB Peterson, and I will not be posting the next section for some time.  Here is a recent argument I got into regarding design and God.  I thought Richard Dawkin’s sledgehammer approach converted all the believers years ago, at least persuaded them that we cannot possibly be designed.  Of course, he did not since people believe what they want to believe.  This may not be new stuff for most of us, but I want someone special to read it because they believe in the design argument.  

I have not thought about God for a long while.  However, a recent conversation that I had reminded me that I can still get agitated when someone does not see it as I see it.  That is interesting in itself and worthy of its own post.  I get especially perturbed when someone is unfamiliar with the topic and doggedly persists without considering my points.  But my points were not articulated well, and I have forgotten what my favorite authors’ names and arguments were.  This post will revisit this topic as well as ask an important question.  Are we too hard on believers?  I think so.  The argument from complexity is not that bad, yet I am still an atheist.

Those Stubborn Beliefs

Two things said by my opponent were that we do not all use the same criteria when evaluating arguments and that the theory of evolution cannot account for all of life’s complexity are good points. For the former point, our myside bias, which is what we want to believe, will make us weigh evidence in favor of our belief more heavily.  Our belief becomes a hypothesis which is a kind of confirmation bias.  That is, we seek evidence that supports our belief and discount other evidence.  But all of science works this way because that is how the mind works.  We cannot imagine two beliefs and simultaneously filter two different kinds of evidence.  But what if our belief is not the right explanation?  Obviously, we must always challenge our beliefs, despite how stubborn they can be.

Beliefs are stubborn things because we probably show an emotional commitment to them, and our identities may be tied to them. What I mean is that these beliefs become “etched” over time in our brains and become reinforced the more we access them.  The more emotion that is tied to them, then the more difficult it is to “rewire” them [1].  These beliefs or “frames” become filters for how we view the world and can create much meaning in our lives.  Beliefs are reinforcing because when we find that something fits our beliefs, then we do not feel dissonance.  What my opponent said, however, was misleading because although we may not all accept the same evidence because of our bias, there are objective ways and criteria for determining which explanation is better.

The best way of determining the strength of our explanations within an argument is by ABE or Argument to the Best Explanation*. In fact, this can be framed in terms of Bayes’ theorem which is just a mathematical way of expressing ABE.  ABE tells us a lot of obvious but important things.  One, our explanation needs to be plausible, which is a measure of how typical our explanation is. Two, it must have explanatory power which means that it must fare better than other hypotheses.   Three, the explanation must have explanatory fitness and not contradict our background knowledge.  Four, it must have explanatory scope and be able to explain a wide range of observations.  Lastly, we cannot add a bunch of other arguments (ad hocness) to make our argument work.

I do not wish to bash anyone for their beliefs unless they are harmful to others.  Believing in God is mostly innocuous, so I respect this person’s belief.  But if we are posing it as a hypothesis to explain phenomena, then it is open to criticism as much as the next one.  We cannot just throw our hands in the air and say that this is a matter of opinion.  Our preference for believing in God is subjective, but the claim of whether or not God caused complexity has an answer.  Let us look at the evidence and reasoning used. Note, for those who say that God works in mysterious ways and that evidence and reasoning are irrelevant, then their beliefs are nothing more than beliefs.  They forfeit any rights that they may have had to have any sort of intellectual conversation.

It’s Complex; Ergo Godditit

Argument: Life is complex, therefore God designed it.

Evidence: consciousness is too complex; science is not the only way to understand; it hasn’t explained everything

The argument that was given is shown above.  This is the God of the gaps fallacy which says that if there is a gap in our scientific understanding, therefore God did it.  The God of the gaps argument has historically been the wrong position to take.  It would be incorrect, however, for me to say since it has been wrong in the past, then it is wrong now.  This is the problem of induction, for which there exists no solution.  But this type of reasoning works nevertheless.  It probably works because nature over time seems to be uniform and predictable.  In any event, I will not rely on this type of reasoning.  The argument as it stands is circular, and it does not tell us anything new.  It is missing premises and is a last-ditch effort to save God.  I suspect that it is also a somewhat more acceptable way of smuggling in a personal God.  Science easily explains why we may have a belief in an intimate God, so unless God operates against all reason and logic, we have no reason to give credence to the idea that there is a personal God.

To help my opponent, we can easily change any circular argument into a valid argument by adding premises.  In fact, Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute did just that.  Meyer says that since our experiences tell us that many complex things are designed, then we can make the inference that life was designed.  This is a perfectly reasonable argument.  Atheists use this same type of argument to illustrate that Jesus Christ, like all the Gods before him, is just another God.  We do not believe in any of those dozens of other Gods, so why should we believe in this God?  No, you see because this God is special.  As true as this reasoning probably is, we cannot just dismiss the divinity of Jesus (ii).  Jesus may be a “special” God and defy our analogous reasoning (iii).  But the same thing is true then for Meyer’s reasoning.  Meyer could say that just because major gaps have been filled by science, it does not mean that the inference that life was designed will also be filled.  In both cases, we must appeal to the actual evidence at hand.

It is very intuitive for us to think that things are designed because they often are—technology obviously is one such thing.  But not all things that we observe have a designer other than nature.  I could give an exhaustive list, but for many, this will not suffice.  It will not suffice because comparing snowflakes to human cells is not believable.  This is why we must turn to natural selection as a force of nature that is guided by a species’ environment and random mutation.  But to some scientists, like Marc Kirschner who wrote “The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin’s Dilemma”, Darwin’s theory of natural selection is not the complete picture.  I plan on using this evidence to at least show that life is, as the book states, very plausibly not designed…


[1] The Bias That Divides Us.  Stanovich, Keith E.

Implications of Petersonism

Opposing Comments: Leftism encourages fear, not respect. Leftism encourages J.E.A.R. (Jealousy, Envy, Anger, Resentment).  The Left fears the competent.  The Left resents the competent.

[This is actually a good point, but I can’t get to it until the next post…]

I am glad that someone challenged my review of Jordan Peterson, where I used hasty generalizations.  I picked out a few distinctive vignettes and created a caricature.  But is Peterson’s philosophy more than this?  This reviewer had what follows to say about this post which at a cursory glance may seem like good points.  But they nevertheless miss my point.  My point, however, was too nuanced and not developed enough for anyone to get it.  If I were to summarize my point, it would be that Petersonism reinforces hyper-competition.  The inevitable result of hyper-competition is status hierarchies.  It makes zero difference if these hierarchies are based on competence or intimidation from other forms.  Decades worth of epidemiological studies show the deleterious effects of status hierarchies.  We weren’t always this competitive because we were egalitarian before the advent of the agricultural revolution.  Since competition and status striving are here to stay, should we take Petersonism to heart or rebuke it?

None of this means that the alternative to hyper-competition is a system of socialism.  This post is not about other options although many authors have proposed ways to at least buffer the costs of unbridled capitalism.  My thoughts on conservatism, which is the essence of Peterson’s approach, is that it is a preference mainly based on personality differences.  But it also can be dangerous because it can lead to demonizing the Other.  In fact, the conservative mode of reasoning leads to conclusions like the following.

If he has not worked hard enough, he is slothful and hence morally weak.  If he is not talented enough, then he ranks lower than others in the natural order…The rich (who are talented enough and who have worked hard enough to become rich) deserve their wealth and the poor (either through lack of industry or talent) deserve their poverty [1].

Response to Commetator 

Opposing Comments: Seeing no actual JB Peterson quotes in this essay, I doubt the author has read or listened to JB Peterson. There are citations from people who opined about JB Peterson but no citations of JB Peterson himself. The books and lectures of JB Peterson cover a very wide array of subjects and the author demonstrates a deep and fundamental misunderstanding of JB Peterson’s philosophy.

Opposing Comments:  Evidently the author is ignorant about JB Peterson’s work on play. The author claims that Peterson’s advice “boils down to intimidating others”. The author is just being prejudicial.

The commentator does not convince me that I have a profound misunderstanding of his philosophy.  If by philosophy they mean his approach, then I think even my caricature captures the “flavor” of his brand.   He is for an extreme form of meritocracy, and I am not even touching upon his other conservative beliefs.  Conservatism has been identified to be a mode of thought that gives direction and form to our arguments.  Conservatism is the essence of his philosophy despite the occasional appeal to “play”.  Although I do not agree with this, many have labeled Peterson as a “pseudo-intellectual” because of his brand permeating his reasoning.

Play is what we do when we want to ease tension in our social interactions, and hence we can say that it is a good thing for the functioning of social hierarchies.  When I say Petersonism is more about “getting ahead” than “getting along”, I mean that the unintended consequence of his focus results in this.  Jordan Peterson must work within the confines of meritocracy.  Although he may very well be for “getting along” within this context, the inevitable result of his approach is contributing to meritocracy.  Although we participate in this system, we do not have a choice because we are indoctrinated into it.  And status hierarchies work by who submits to who.  This hardly qualifies as getting along.  Understanding this will require a deeper explanation of status hierarchies.

We are so used to the point that competition is good for us that I do not expect anyone to see the perils of meritocracy.  Meritocracy rewards the competent and punishes the incompetent.  There may be some good things that come out of meritocracies such as high-quality services and products.  But carrots and sticks are not the only way to motivate people.  It is also an efficient way to implement an economic system, but is it the best way to configure a society?  I am not claiming to have the answers to this, but we do know the costs of this system.  Epidemiological research has been conducted over decades with robust and conclusive results.

If we want to learn about the effects of status hierarchies, I have written about this here and here.  To summarize an effect, those who make an income of $40k have a relative risk of death of three times that of the group that makes $140k.  This has nothing to do with absolute status, which is how much education and income we have in absolute terms.  It is about what education and income bring relative to the next guy.  Relative status gives us more control and social benefits in life.  This means that even if we make a handsome $200k a year, if the people we compete with are more capable, intelligent, and earn more, we will not be better off.

I must also add that I am not prejudiced against Jordon Peterson.  I began to like the guy despite his beliefs.  And I think if we want to be successful in this system, most of his advice is spot on.  The last comment on the alpha males is not something I even discussed.  I do not think the commentator understands what exactly a status hierarchy is and relies on the dictionary to assist with concepts that are better left for social and evolutionary psychologists to sort out.  In the next post, I will explain what I mean by a status hierarchy by relying on real models.  This will give us a better understanding of the differences between fear, respect, admiration, deference, submission, and more.  Lastly, I will also address the comment at the top of the page because the commentator is right.  But it turns out that those feelings have assisted the downtrodden to be successful over millions of years.

Opposing Commemts: ccording to the dictionary, FORMIDABLE = inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable. Fear (aka intimidation) versus Respect. Fear is not Respect. Fear is a reaction; respect is a decision. Going back to the subject of play, no one gets invited to play through intimidation. Peterson definitely advocates people to strive to be capable, competent, and (IMPORTANTLY) playful. Formidable and playful inspires much more respect than fear. Fear and Respect are functions of the beholder more than of said formidable person.

According to the dictionary, RESPECT = a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Respect opens one to improve oneself, to educate oneself. Fear closes one to improvement and education.

The author confuses JB Peterson with Andrew Tate who stated that the main goal of the alpha male is status.

To be fair, Peterson is more than just my caricature.  This can easily be proven by looking at his 12 Rules for Life which touch upon relationships, personal growth, finding meaning in life, and more.  But none of this negates that his overwhelming approach utilizes conservative concepts.  Take a look at what George Lakoff calls the conservative constellation of concepts.  Peterson uses these to teach us lessons.  Of course, Peterson also tells us to question the rules if they are stupid.  He is more than my caricature.  But at the core, since we need a worldview to organize our thoughts and feelings, he must rely on something to give his thoughts direction.

character, virtue, discipline, tough it out, get tough, tough love, strong, self-reliance, individual responsibility, backbone, standards, authority, heritage, competition, earn, hard work, enterprise, property rights, reward, freedom, intrusion, interference, meddling, punishment, human nature, traditional, common sense, dependency, self-indulgent, elite, quotas, breakdown, corrupt, decay, rot, degenerate, deviant, lifestyle. [1]


i).  I do not think, however, that our liberal bias is not somewhat warranted.  For those who fall into the categories of the underrepresented, e.g., the LBGTQA+ community, Peterson is quite frankly not that supportive.  He supports traditional marriage and other conservative beliefs which are obviously not a plus for those who are not traditional.  When you exclude people, then you will arouse animosity.  I am trying to put aside those beliefs in order to focus on a single belief of meritocracy.

[1] Lakoff, George. Moral Politics. University of Chicago Press.

The Peterson Challenge

I am a little late to talk about Jordan Peterson, but he does not seem like he is going anywhere and his popularity is growing.  I have been analyzing him for months now, and he most definitely poses a challenge to liberals.  Here are just a few thoughts I have.

On Liking Jordan Peterson

If you like Jordan Peterson, then this means that you are more concerned about “getting ahead” than “getting along”.  This is my conclusion after listening to him for about a year now.  Since he is a religious conservative, can we conclude that he is not friendly to the interests of minorities, the poor, and the LBGTQA+ community?  I do not think that he denies that gender differences exist nor that  LBGTQA+’s interests have been unfairly represented if at all in our culture**, but he believes that we should not subvert categorization.  He talks about how there is variation in personalities and temperaments within sexes.  For example, a female can vary in her masculinity-femininity to the point of appearing “masculine”.  But this is the exception and not the rule, so we should not be too concerned about this.  In other words, we have no need to recategorize or cater to their interests.

On the other hand, if we are more concerned about competing and being successful, then Peterson does have some good advice. He believes that we need to be articulate to fight this “war”, which is what life is to him.  Being articulate is our weapon and means for becoming formidable.  If we are not strong, then we are weak.  And who wants to be weak. It is hard to argue with these types of arguments if we are concerned about striving and status.  He does seem to be a genuinely compassionate*** person.  Most people within the field of clinical psychology are.  Despite how knowledgeable he is on religious matters and his ability to relate biblical truths to our everyday struggles, he is nevertheless mistaken on the big issues.  I am curious what take others have on Peterson.

I know many on ftb have written about him, but I haven’t had the chance to read them.  I will do some searching and get updated.

What Does Peterson Challenge?

There are a few challenges that he poses. If we are interested in status striving, like being successful in this world, then his advice is not that bad. So one challenge would be to like him enough to listen to his advice.  Another challenge is that he legitimizes the conservative worldview.  People believe that he, like a typical pundit, is uncovering the veneer that hides the truth.  There are also a lot of people that don’t like the “woke*” culture, and he offers an alternative.  These are not his only appeal though.  A lot of people strive to achieve a certain status in life and have been blocked, for whatever reasons.  Peterson whacks them over the head with a sense of urgency that speaks to them.  Hey, “you have to be tough in this world and that means being a realist, formidable, dogged, and smart.”  In other words, self-interested.  Many will be persuaded by this kind of talk, liberals and conservatives because it appeals to the “tough guy/gal/them” in all of us.  We all have this side in us because we all need to compete and survive.

The core of liberalism, however, is about empathy or putting oneself in the shoes of another.  Everything Peterson is about is the exact opposite.  Of course, he will claim that empathy is still utilized in his teachings, but he calls this “tough love”.  We are preparing our children to be “warriors” not “snowflakes”, and we won’t let people take advantage of us.  Take a look at what “formidable” means.  If we break it down, it boils down to intimidating others.  This implies that we must be “better” than others.  We no longer intimidate people by our physical strength but by our capabilities and accomplishments, i.e., our status and prestige.  To me, this is a realist approach that works well for our capitalistic and overly competitive society, but it is only reinforcing a culture of self-interest.

If everyone believes and practices this stuff, then this only increases competition and ups the ante.  Think it through.  There will be inevitable losers to the game.  A person-to-person face-off, which is what he is acknowledging and promoting, cannot have two winners.  Either one defers and submits to the other with inferiority or dominates with superiority.  Where is the empathy and assistance to these people?  Put aside his refusal to help or acknowledge the oppressed with any empathy, my personal opinion is that his approach is too aggressive and his references to the Bible annoy me.  But that is exactly why most people like him.

* This of course is a dysphemism for having a heightened concern about others that most had little concern for in the past.

** I am not one-hundred percent positive on this one.

*** Is his compassion feigned or real is anyone’s guess.  But his compassion is exclusive to those “hardworking” folks that are trying to compete in this world.


  • a year’s worth of listening to him on Facebook and Instagram.